South West Greens MLC Diane Evers has called for action by the McGowan Government to end logging in Western Australian native forests, after an independent estimate was conducted by the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office on its own native timber industry.
The Victorian Andrews Government announced a transition plan in November 2019 to phase out logging of native trees in the state by 2030, including a $120m package for the industry and workers.
However, according to a report by The Guardian on Monday, immediately ending native forest logging in Victoria would save taxpayers $192m over the next decade, which Ms Evers described as evidence that WA should fast-track a transition to its own, smaller industry.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for forestry, has campaigned during her term to end the commercial logging of WA’s native forests, with plans to introduce a Bill to repeal the Forest Products Act later this year.
Ms Evers said the changing economic landscape has created an opportunity to take action now and utilise budget savings from ending native logging to help regional communities create new employment opportunities during recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“Our native forests need to be protected so we can tackle climate change and ensure they are there for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.
“However, it is clear there is also economic evidence to support this change – and for it to happen now.
“Native timber logging lost its social licence long ago and the Victorian Labor Government recognised this when it announced it would phase out it’s industry and transition workers by 2030.
“However, this estimate by the Victorian Government’s own Parliamentary Budget Office indicates this is insufficient action.
“The McGowan Government cannot argue that native timber logging in Western Australia remains viable, particularly given the industry’s smaller size in comparison to Victoria’s.
“By supporting the ongoing operation of the Forest Products Commission (FPC), WA Labor and the Liberals are propping up the unprofitable and destructive native forestry industry, frustrating our transition to a fully sustainable timber industry.
“There is a wealth of possibility in a wholesale transition to a sustainable timber industry, particularly given the employment crisis suffered by so many as we are impacted by COVID-19.
“By implementing a rapid and just transition of the timber industry to ecologically beneficial plantations and farm forestry, regional Western Australia would see its community supported through the creation of new job opportunities in the state, as well as preserving the environment.
“With the FPC proven unfit to prevent serious breaches within the industry, Forestry Minister Dave Kelly must show leadership now by making necessary and inevitable progress on this issue.
“The WA Labor Government must repeal the Forest Products Act and protect our native forests.”
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070